Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Old New Town Road Bridge

Here is a bit of hidden gem!!
The road that comprises Elizabeth Street, New Town Road & Main Road was part of the original north - south route from Hobart Town until the Brooker Highway was constructed in the 1950's. It had been previously known as the Great Road from Hobart Town into the interior and the High Road from Hobart Town to Launceston. Convict road gangs were used to construct much of the infrastructure along the roads including bridges, culverts etc as well as the roads themselves.

The vast majority of motorists who travel along this road every day of the week would probably be unaware that the bridge that crosses over the New Town Rivulet at the Creek Road intersection was originally built in 1840 by the convict road gangs. A beautiful stone arch construction which has survived to this day.

The roadway was widened in 1903 in order to accommodate a significant increase in traffic but the original structure was not replaced, rather the widened road was constructed over the top of the existing bridge. The original stone arch structure was retained as the basis of the bridge and continues to provide strength and durability up to the current day. It is not visible from the current roadway but a pathway that runs down beside the rivulet affords pedestrians a fine view of the small bridge under the concrete superstructure above it.

The bridge itself appears to be in excellent condition. The only downside, in my humble opinion, is that the stonework has been attacked by the bane of modern day society - graffiti. It would appear that the local council has neither the time or the desire to clean the ugly graffiti from the walls of the bridge and keep it in its original condition. Possibly a case of out of sight, out of mind. Still, its a wonderful surviving structure from the convict era and a tribute to the skill of the stonemasons and artisans among the convict population of the time.

Main Information & Text Source - "The Story of New Town" - Donald Howatson

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